By William Cooper (fl. 1653)
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! — Psalm 126.5
It is a very high privilege for a Christian to be conformed to Christ. To be conformists to Christ, is to be nonconformists to the world. But what conforms us more to Christ than the cross? Therefore give thanks for it. “That I may know the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
This is part of that excellent knowledge for which Paul accounted all other worldly privileges but dung. To this conformity in afflictions unto Christ we are predestinated. “If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified together.” It is this way that Christ entered into glory. “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
If we will enter with him, we must follow after him. How? By taking up his cross. The cross of Christ sweetens our sufferings in the bitterness of them—as that piece of wood sweetened the waters of Marah. Christ, like a good physician, first tasted the medicine that he gave his patient.
Never hope to go another way than the Captain of our salvation hath led us; for if we baulk his track, we are lost. Must we not then give thanks for affliction that conforms us to our Head?
The cross is a Christian’s banner, his honor, and the special favor of the Lord towards him—therefore be thankful for it. Let not this seem a riddle or paradox. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” This he accounts a peculiar gift of God to them, whereof but few in comparison do partake.
Mark what the apostle Peter says: “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” God’s Spirit manifests itself variously in several subjects; but in sufferers for Christ the very spirit and quintessence of glory seems to be extracted and poured on them.
Upon all these accounts, and many more such, we are to thank God for crosses and corrections, because the good of them doth flow from God’s goodness, not from their nature. The Lord can make the persecutors of his people instruments of good to his people: no thanks to them, but to him.